Forgive me for getting a bit ahead of the season. While I normally abhor promotional season-creep (it's got to be December before I can even slightly stomach Christmas music in stores), I'm going to engage in some.
No need to wait another month to green up your act. Start one of these green resolutions each week between now and the end of the year and you can rest easier knowing that your on a greener path...And can move on to other resolutions like promising to take off the weight you put on this holiday season.
Week One: Green Your Energy Usage
One of the best and easiest things you can do to reduce your personal carbon emissions is to sign up for a renewable energy program with your utility. A few minutes of your time and a few cents more per kilowatt-hour can seriously reduce your personal carbon footprint. The difference between your carbon emissions from your city or state's normal energy mix and all renewable energy varies from place to place, but rest assured that switching to 100% renewable energy is a big improvement from the national stat of about 7%.
Planet Green has covered how to do this before for a few cities, but the US Department of Energy's Green Power Network has a listing for programs available in every state.
Sign up for electronic billing and you've saved 37 pounds of carbon emissions over the year on top of going carbon neutral on your electricity.
Week Two: Pledge to Use Public Transport, Walk or Bike
You've no doubt gotten the message that using your own two feet or a bicycle is probably the best way to get around, in terms of carbon emissions...And using public transportation or carpooling is a far better way to go than sitting by your lonesome in your car.
So walk the talk and use one of these at least one more day a week next year. World Offset estimates that doing this just one day a week will reduce your carbon emissions by nearly 1000 pounds over the course of the year.
Week Three: Reduce or Eliminate Your Consumption of Meat
In terms of carbon emissions, knocking meat off your menu is a significant step you can take to green your lifestyle. Switch to an all vegetarian diet and you can rest assured that your personal carbon emissions are about 2.52 tons less than your carnivorous neighbors. Just setting aside one day a week as a meat-free day would avoid emitting about 720 pounds of carbon emissions over the year.
Don't know where to start? Check out these great vegetarian recipes.
Week Four: Eat More Local Food
By now you've probably heard the term 'locavore', and have probably heard about the benefits of eating more locally-sourced food. But what you may not realize is how much resolving to eat more local food can reduce your carbon footprint.
If you resolve to eat just one meal each week comprised of only locally sourced ingredients (or at least the majority...I won't begrudge your spice usage) you could avoid 666 pounds of emissions each time.
I know that this may be more difficult in the winter across large parts of the United States, so start slowly and then really go local later in the year. Even if the full impact of this one isn't felt for a couple of months, start thinking like a locavore: How many food miles got racked up for my meal to get here? Is it in season? Is there a local alternative I could buy? Investigate joining a Community Supported Agriculture Co-op for next summer.
Week Five: Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
By replacing some of the energy sucking items in your house with their more energy sipping alternatives, and engaging in some energy frugality you can make an additional reduction in your personal carbon footprint.
Replacing 4 incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents will avoid 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the year. Unplugging your computer will knock off another 250 pounds of emissions being sucked out by vampire power next year. Setting your thermostat two degrees cooler in the winter and two degrees warmer in the summer (ditching the AC all together would be even better) will save 1000 pounds of carbon emissions next year. Air drying half of your laundry next year will save about 725 pounds of emissions.
Add these all up, and combined with these other resolutions, and you're really starting to get someplace.